As another year passes by, the for Indian and International sports has left fans and sportspersons with bittersweet memories. From the cricket greats who retired to Lance Armstrong's banishment and London Olympics, the top ten sporting moments that were more than just flashes in the pan in 2012,
India at the Olympics
This was India's most successful Olympics based on the medal standings, winning a total of 6 medals (0 gold 2 silver and 4 bronze), and doubling the nation's overall record in Beijing.
The Indian Olympic Association sent the nation's largest delegation to the Games in Olympic history. Wrestler and Olympic bronze medalist and the nation's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, Sushil Kumar, claimed a silver medal in the men's freestyle wrestling. Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal became the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic bronze medal in the women's singles. Boxer Mary Kom, on the other hand, lost to Great Britain's Nicola Adams in the semi-final match, but settled for the bronze in the first ever women's flyweight event. Yogeshwar Dutt bagged a bronze medal in Men's freestyle 60 kg, while Vijay Kumar won silver in Men's 25 m rapid fire pistol. Gagan Narang settled for a bronze in the Men's 10 m air rifle.
A file photo of Lance Armstrong during an interview in Austin, Texas. AP Photo
The Cricket greats retire
Batting great Rahul Dravid and India's middle order bulwark for years, bid adieu to Test cricket, bringing down the curtains on a glorious 16-year career. The 39-year-old Dravid, a former India captain, became the first of the three ageing greats of Indian cricket, besides Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, to retire in the aftermath of India's disastrous Test tour of Australia. Dravid ended his Test career with 13,288 runs in 164 matches, with 36 hundreds and 63 half centuries at an average of 52.31, the 270 against Pakistan being his highest score.
A combo picture of (from L-R) Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and VVS Laxman.
The stumps were drawn on a Very Very Special era in Indian cricket as Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman announced his retirement. The most elegant batsman in the famed Indian line-up of the noughties, the Hyderabad stylist debuted in 1996 and scored 8,781 runs with 17 centuries in a career free of controversy.
Ricky Ponting's final innings was ushered in by a guard of honour from the South African players as he strode to the crease, and his last departure from the arena as a Test player was on the shoulders of his Australian teammates. Ponting finished with a career tally of 13,378 test runs, including 41 centuries, at an average of just under 52 in 287 innings. He shares the mark with Waugh for guiding Australia to 16 consecutive test wins, and he guided the Australians to back-to-back World Cup titles in 2003 and '07 during a record unbeaten run.
Guilty and banished: Lance Armstrong
Once a symbol of perseverance in the face of the most incredible odds, Lance Armstrong now seems destined to go down in history as one of the most brazen dope cheats that sport has ever seen. In October, the International Cycling Union (ICU) stripped Lance Armstrong of all results since 1 August, 1998 and banned him for life after United States Anti-Doping Agency's (Usada) investigation into systematic doping. The 41-year-old Armstrong had his seven Tour de France victories scratched from the records. The American has until 27 December to appeal against the ruling.
A file photo of Lance Armstrong during an interview in Austin, Texas. AP Photo
Messi creates history
The Barcelona star, Lionel Messi, rewrites the history book as the soccer phenom scored his 88th goal of the year, which is widely thought to be the world record for scoring the highest goals in a calendar year. The 25-yr-old scored two goals for Barcelona during their game against Cordoba in the Copa del Rey (King's Cup), giving Messi's team a 2-0 win over Cordoba with the announcer booming, "A new goal king!" Messi broke German legend Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for the most goals in a calendar year, netting his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 in the 2-1 win over Real Betis.
A combo photo of FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi (top), scoring his second goal against Zaragoza during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona and (bottom) a June 18, 1972 file photo of Gerd Mueller (L) of West Germany, scoring a goal against the Soviet Union in the Heysel Stadium, in Brussels. AP Photos
Phelps' golden farewell
The 'most decorated Olympian', Michael Phelps at 27, ended his swimming career at the London Olympics with 18 gold, twice as many as anyone else, and 22 medals all over. However, latest reports say that his biggest rival, Ryan Lochte, thinks Phelps will get the itch before the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Phelps ended his incredible Olympic career winning his 18th gold medal for the United States in the men's medley relay, the last time he will swim a competitive race.
Badminton scandal at London Olympics
The festering issue of draw rigging in badminton that has left a sizable scar had finally erupted on the biggest sporting stage with the expulsion of eight players at the Olympics 2012. Disturbingly, the badminton world had been expecting it. The sight of four women's doubles pairs deliberately throwing their matches to secure a better run to the medal rounds disgusted a crowd of 4,800 packed into Wembley Arena expecting to see the best of badminton's best. The players thrown out were China's top-seeded duo Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, plus Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari of Indonesia.
A combination picture of eight badminton players that were disqualified for 'throwing match' at London Olympics. (Top Row L-R) South Korea's Kim Ha Na, Ha Jung-Eun, Kim Min-Jung, Jung Kyung-Eun. (Bottom Row L-R) Indonesia's Greysia Polii, Meiliana Jauhari and China's Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang. AFP Photo
Curtains down on Schumacher
After 21 years, seven drivers' championship triumphs and 91 victories, Michael Schumacher bade an emotional farewell to Formula One in November 2012 after finishing seventh in the Brazilian Grand Prix, bringing down the curtain on his controversial, colourful career. When he first retired in 2006, there was an air of disappointment about his exit from the sport because it came not by choice, but circumstance. When he retired after the Brazilian Grand Prix six years ago, it was because Ferrari had made clear they were signing Raikkonen from McLaren.
Michael Schumacher poses with the Mercedes team in the pits of the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo, Brazil. AFP Photo
Sebastian Vettel: triple-world champion
Sebastian Vettel made history as the youngest ever triple-world champion after a sixth place finish in a wild season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix 2012. The German Formula One racing driver holds numerous other "youngest" Formula One records, among them: the youngest driver to have taken part in an official practice session of a Grand Prix, to score championship points, to lead a race, to secure pole position and to win a race.
Sebastian Vettel celebrates his F1 World Championship with Red Bull teammates at the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo, Brazil. AFP Photo
The big fours of Tennis
Andy Murray joined Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and the injury-cursed Rafael Nadal as a Grand Slam title winner in 2012 as the big three became the fab four. Nadal is due to return to action at a three-day exhibition event in Abu Dhabi from December 27, but he has already warned against high expectations.
A combo picture of (clockwise) Spain's Rafael Nadal, Britain's Andy Murray, Swizerland's Roger Federer and Serbia's Novak Djokovic.
Defending champion Djokovic prevailed in an epic five-set contest which clocked in at 5hr 53min -- the longest title match in Grand Slam history. Djokovic fought back from losing the first set to take a 2-1 lead, but he was then taken to a gripping fifth set by resurgent Nadal before winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 for his third consecutive major title. Although Djokovic missed out in Paris, the Serb still featured in three of the season's four major finals.
His disappointment at his five-set loss to Murray at the US Open would eventually be eased by his capture of the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals title in London. His 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 victory over Federer put the seal on a memorable year. Federer defied the critics who insisted he was past his best by equalling Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon titles with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Murray.
Usain Bolt has won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award for the fourth time over United States hurdler Aries Merritt and Kenyan runner David Rudisha. The Jamaican sprinter, who defended his 100 and 200 meter gold medals at this summer's Olympic Games, had previously won the award in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Yohan Blake, three years younger than his Jamaican compatriot, is likely to be Bolt's main challenger again next year and the world's fastest man said he was relishing the challenge of competing against his training partner.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium.
Disclaimer: Listing in no particular order.
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